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Microsoft has announced it is acquiring natural language and AI messaging startup Wand Labs as part of a larger strategy to build out "conversation as a platform" (via TechCrunch).

Founded in 2013 by former Google staffer Vishal Sharma, Wand Labs' stated aim is "to tear down app walls, integrate your services in chat, and make them work together so you can do more with less taps".

3060781-inline-i-1-microsoft-boosts-its-bot-future-by-acquiring-wand.jpg

Previously, Wand apps focused on using conversational interfaces to allow users to perform collaborative tasks, such as enabling a friend to control a Nest thermostat, for example. (All Wand apps have been removed from the App Store since the announcement.)

"I'm proud of the work my team has done and what we've already accomplished in this emerging space," said Sharma in a statement on the Wand Labs website. "I'm delighted to be joining a company that shares our passion and enthusiasm for this new era where conversation is the central focus. Making experiences for customers more seamless by harnessing human language is a powerful vision and one that motivates me and my team."

The terms of the buyout have not been disclosed, but the fledgling Silicon Valley startup has just seven employees - a world away from Microsoft's recent $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, which has 9,700 full-time employees with offices in 30 cities around the world.

The two deals are likely related, however, as Microsoft appears to be maneuvering significant investment in the direction of conversational chat bot services backed by big data, natural language processing, and predictive analytics.

Wand employees are expected to be integrated into Microsoft's Bing and Cortana teams, as the company follows a larger tech trend towards an era of conversational AI services and virtual messaging assistants.

Introducing chatbots into popular messaging apps are becoming more and more popular, with platforms like Kik and Skype gaining bot features to provide users with interactive chat logs that provide information on the weather, entertainment, or world news.

Facebook recently introduced chatbots to Messenger, and provided developers with toolkits to create third-party customer service chatbots and live chat APIs.

In the smart home sector, similar moves are aiming to make virtual assistants more intelligent at performing tasks and more responsive to specific queries, such as Amazon Echo's recent "skills" upgrade, which enables its Alexa assistant to integrate with over 1,000 third-party apps.

Google recently announced its Echo rival, Home, while Apple is also rumored to be working on a similar, Siri-based device for the home.

Apple has reportedly been working on its rival device since before the Amazon Echo debuted in November 2014. Google Home will be available later this year, but it is not known when Apple will be ready to debut its home accessory or how it will fit into the company's existing product lineup.

In a related move, Apple announced this week that it would open Siri up to third-party developers with a public API, allowing users to summon Apple's personal assistant AI to access third-party services and apps hands-free, opening the door to a potential smart home assistant with enhanced functionality and contextual awareness.

In October 2015, Apple acquired VocalIQ, a UK-based startup that had spent the last 10 years researching natural language, belief tracking, decision making, and message generation, in an attempt to develop a next-generation natural language API.

It's early days, but Apple may introduce the API in its Echo competitor because of its ability to go beyond the "session-based" contextual responses touted by the likes of Viv.

Article Link: Microsoft Follows LinkedIn Acquisition With Chatbot-Based 'Wand' Buyout
 
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djcerla

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Apple siphons basically all the profits in smartphones, tablets, smartwatches (and much of the money in the beleaguered PC market), advertising is a Facebook/Google affair.

So, Microsoft is left with a vision of the future when they could eventually be relevant again (AI bots). That's why their recent moves look so odd and desperate.

How the tables have turned!
 
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maflynn

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So, Microsoft is left with a vision of the future when they could eventually be relevant again (AI bots). That's why their recent moves look so odd and desperate.
I think MS is in a really good position, their services are robust, and growing, they're making a lot of money on Office365, and the Linkedin purchase, caught Google flat footed (who's social media attempts have all failed).

Apple indeed is on the top for smartphones, but how much longer can they rely on idevice sales, when the competition is working hard at their own strategy?
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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If AI chat 'bots' are the future I want no part of it. Talk about a gimmick.
 
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yaxomoxay

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If AI chat 'bots' are the future I want no part of it. Talk about a gimmick.

It's not a gimmick. It's support 24 hours a day, without wait time, 7 days a week.
[doublepost=1466164510][/doublepost]Microsoft is placing itself very well. Buying LinkedIn was a stroke of genius.
Microsoft only problem is how much Windows sucks.
 
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djcerla

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how much longer can they rely on idevice sales, when the competition is working hard at their own strategy?

Said about Apple since 1984, and always proved wrong.

Take a look at Apple's service revenues: they're booming, bigger than the Mac. This is the result of Apple's own strategy.

The difference is that competitors publish roadmaps, vaporware, etc to wow analysts, whereas Apple works mostly in secret. And their resources far, far outstrip anyone elses's.
 
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yaxomoxay

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Mar 3, 2010
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From an article:

"
This summer, Microsoft will release an update to Windows 10 which will allow Linux binaries to run natively. No VMs, no Cygwin—we're talking about true-blue Ubuntu binaries from Canonical, giving Windows machines a real bash shell, apt-get, and nearly anything else most users would need from a Linux command line. (No X Window System officially, and file sockets and pty/tty bits aren't at 100% yet, but it is still a beta.)

If Microsoft can pull it off well enough and have it work as advertised, such a feature has the potential to eat Apple's lunch when it comes to winning over future software engineers—especially those looking to develop with frameworks that don't play easily with Windows such as Ruby on Rails.
"
https://www.upguard.com/blog/microsoft-may-have-just-stolen-the-future-from-apple
 
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Abazigal

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Jul 18, 2011
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I think MS is in a really good position, their services are robust, and growing, they're making a lot of money on Office365, and the Linkedin purchase, caught Google flat footed (who's social media attempts have all failed).

Apple indeed is on the top for smartphones, but how much longer can they rely on idevice sales, when the competition is working hard at their own strategy?
Seems like the case.

Looks like Microsoft has given up on trying to catch up to Apple and Google in the mobile space. Instead, Microsoft is abandoning mobile altogether and focusing its energies on trying to discover the next big thing. Probably AI, which Apple seems ill equipped to compete in because of their business model and emphasis on privacy.
 
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djcerla

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AI, which Apple seems ill equipped to compete in because of their business model and emphasis on privacy.

This is the new "Apple is ill equipped to compete in the phone business".

Despite Apple's very clear push towards AI, with acquisitions in the field and Differential Privacy open talk.
 
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2457282

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I really hope that MS does not convert LinkedIn into a Facebook or worse yet into a 365 subscription. I use it professionally today, but if gets any more non-profession that it already has gotten, I may need to look for a new outlet.

I think it's smart for MS to look for other services. Their cash cow of Windows is dwindling and although the have office as another cash cow, that has saturated so not a lot of growth their I suspect. They have down well with azure and other cloud services so expanding here through acquisition does seem to put them in a good place. How they integrate this all will be key. The other key will be how they monetize the services. Subscription? Ads? We shall see.
 
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maflynn

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Said about Apple since 1984, and always proved wrong.
Really, they were talking about iDevices back in 1984 :rolleyes:

Apple was competing against IBM at the time, and they rolled out the Macintosh, which struggled in sales, compared to the PC. I don't see how your comment regarding apple's growth back then has any valid comparison to today.
 
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Stella

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Apr 21, 2003
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So, Microsoft is left with a vision of the future when they could eventually be relevant again (AI bots). That's why their recent moves look so odd and desperate.

ROTFL. Nice.

But, Microsoft are still extremely relevant.

Apple are consumer only. Microsoft have their feet in more than one business area, which makes them a more robust company. If the consumer side suffers ( which it has done ), their other business areas can continue to ensure a viable business.

What would happen if Apple's consumer products and services start to suffer? Apple have no other business areas.


I really hope that MS does not convert LinkedIn into a Facebook or worse yet into a 365 subscription.

From what I've read they want to turn it into a more social platform. LinkedIn already has a subscription option for more features. Making LinkedIn pay only will kill it - but others will step up and replace what LinkedIn did offer, for free.

But who charges for a social web platform?
 
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ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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From an article:

"
This summer, Microsoft will release an update to Windows 10 which will allow Linux binaries to run natively. No VMs, no Cygwin—we're talking about true-blue Ubuntu binaries from Canonical, giving Windows machines a real bash shell, apt-get, and nearly anything else most users would need from a Linux command line. (No X Window System officially, and file sockets and pty/tty bits aren't at 100% yet, but it is still a beta.)

If Microsoft can pull it off well enough and have it work as advertised, such a feature has the potential to eat Apple's lunch when it comes to winning over future software engineers—especially those looking to develop with frameworks that don't play easily with Windows such as Ruby on Rails.
"
https://www.upguard.com/blog/microsoft-may-have-just-stolen-the-future-from-apple

My understanding is that all of these Ubuntu binaries have to run on their own file system, entirely separate from the Windows file system.

It seems to me that something like Cygwin or a VM offer better interoperability between Ubuntu binaries and Windows binaries.

I haven't actually tried it yet since it's still in beta, but I'll probably look into it once it's out of beta.
 
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djcerla

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ROTFL. Nice.

But, Microsoft are still extremely relevant.

Apple are consumer only. Microsoft have their feet in more than one business area, which makes them a more robust company. If the consumer side suffers ( which it has done ), their other business areas can continue to ensure a viable business.

What would happen if Apple's consumer products and services start to suffer? Apple have no other business areas.




From what I've read they want to turn it into a more social platform. LinkedIn already has a subscription option for more features. Making LinkedIn pay only will kill it - but others will step up and replace what LinkedIn did offer, for free.

But who charges for a social web platform?

Apple is NOT consumer only by any stretch of imagination. They have huge sales to enterprises and partnerships with IBM and Cisco. Apple DOMINATES enterprise actually.

Microsoft is not "extremely relevant". They have no foot in mobile, which is almost unbelievable. Cloud? Quickly commodizing. AI? Show us something other than a hacked Twitter bot and vaporware, then we can evaluate it.
[doublepost=1466170002][/doublepost]
Apple is NOT consumer only by any stretch of imagination. They have huge sales to enterprises and partnerships with IBM and Cisco. Apple DOMINATES enterprise actually.
Really, they were talking about iDevices back in 1984 :rolleyes:

Apple was competing against IBM at the time, and they rolled out the Macintosh, which struggled in sales, compared to the PC. I don't see how your comment regarding apple's growth back then has any valid comparison to today.

Same comments: Apple will not be able to sell hardware at premium margins, since forever, always proved wrong. That was the point of my comment.
 
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Stella

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Apple is NOT consumer only by any stretch of imagination. They have huge sales to enterprises and partnerships with IBM and Cisco. Apple DOMINATES enterprise actually.
OK, they have some partnerships, recently, related to mobile.

Microsoft is not "extremely relevant". They have no foot in mobile, which is almost unbelievable. Cloud? Quickly commodizing. AI? Show us something other than a hacked Twitter bot and vaporware, then we can evaluate it.

You seem to be forgetting about the business that aren't so consumer facing. Microsoft too have many partnerships with other companies - more than Apple, probably.

What about government contracts around that world that include education, military, administration to provide software and services.

Microsoft's office products are still highly used, as Windows of course.

Yes, I'd say microsoft were still "extremely" relevant in the world today.

Cloud - Azure is doing OK - Microsoft's own platform on which they also host their own software, similar to iCloud and more functional. Oh wait.. iCloud doesn't run on Apple's own infrastructure does it?
Entertainment - Well, Xbox - very popular.
AI - microsoft have an AI group - http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/groups/ai/
Also - AI - There is Cortana - for consumer facing.

Given, the areas that Microsoft do business - you still think microsoft are not relevant in the world today?
 
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Vanilla35

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Apr 11, 2013
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Apple siphons basically all the profits in smartphones, tablets, smartwatches (and much of the money in the beleaguered PC market), advertising is a Facebook/Google affair.

So, Microsoft is left with a vision of the future when they could eventually be relevant again (AI bots). That's why their recent moves look so odd and desperate.

How the tables have turned!

I don't think they look desperate at all. I think they look forward-thinking. The future is not an act of desperation. It is an act of strength.

Also it appears they recognize the weakness in their present state, which shows intelligence as well. Aside from that, I agree with your statement.
 
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AFEPPL

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Sep 30, 2014
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Microsoft has some great stuff coming..
How will the future look when iPhone sales continue to slow or decline?
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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Its not a gimmick and as these bots get more robust, they become more helpful. Just look at Google Now vs. Cortana vs. Siri. The latter is the least robust, and Google, MS have a feature rich product that puts apple to shame.
Nah, it's just the lastest thing the tech world is obsessing over because most tech geeks are OCD and get bored easily. I find it amusing though that the tech world is now thinks customer service is cool because someone decided 'bots' are the next big thing (and because Apple isn't playing in the 'bot' space right now).

I agree with this article that the death of apps are greatly exaggerated.

http://www.recode.net/2016/6/17/11956080/apps-death-greatly-exaggerated-apple-wwdc-app-store-model

Bots may, in time, encroach a little more on new categories, but the vast majority of things bots are useful for fall into two camps: B2C interactions and reference. Given the focus on B2C interactions, it’s no wonder that three of their biggest proponents are companies with a vested interest in fostering activity in that category: Microsoft seeks to dominate enterprise software, while Google and Facebook dominate online advertising by businesses to consumers. But apps that provide that functionality are a tiny minority of those in the various app stores, and generate even less revenue (mainly because they’re merely customer-interaction interfaces for businesses whose revenue is mostly generated elsewhere).

Microsoft is not "extremely relevant". They have no foot in mobile, which is almost unbelievable. Cloud? Quickly commodizing. AI? Show us something other than a hacked Twitter bot and vaporware, then we can evaluate it.

Both Microsoft and Facebook are trying to find some relevancy in mobile. Basically Facebook wants to be the new AOL where everyone lives in their walled garden, where people get their news, communicate with others and buy and sell things all within Facebook apps. I tried out some of the Facebook bots and was not impressed at all. Again, the tech world is bored which is why they're always hyping something to be the next big thing. Right now it's AI. And all the better for their memes that from the outside it looks like Apple is falling behind in this area. Nothing makes a better (read: clickable) story than AI is the future and Apple is nowhere to be found.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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I think MS is in a really good position, their services are robust, and growing, they're making a lot of money on Office365, and the Linkedin purchase, caught Google flat footed (who's social media attempts have all failed).

Apple indeed is on the top for smartphones, but how much longer can they rely on idevice sales, when the competition is working hard at their own strategy?

LinkedIn hasn't come close to succeeding.

They lost more than $11 billion in value in a single day last year.

They posted a $116 million loss last year (and that's with shady reporting that doesn't include employee stock which would mean at least another $100 million in losses) and have never come even close to profitability.

LinkedIn Publisher is pretty much dead according to traffic statistics.

Their ad business hasn't done well (having worked with LinkedIn directly I can tell you they're at least 3 years behind the other social networks and doing nothing to catch up).


It's going to be a very long road to become profitable and even longer to make up the 50% premium that Microsoft paid for them. If they beat all expectations it would still be at least 20 years before they'd prove their worth.
 
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Black Magic

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Sep 30, 2012
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From an article:

"
This summer, Microsoft will release an update to Windows 10 which will allow Linux binaries to run natively. No VMs, no Cygwin—we're talking about true-blue Ubuntu binaries from Canonical, giving Windows machines a real bash shell, apt-get, and nearly anything else most users would need from a Linux command line. (No X Window System officially, and file sockets and pty/tty bits aren't at 100% yet, but it is still a beta.)

If Microsoft can pull it off well enough and have it work as advertised, such a feature has the potential to eat Apple's lunch when it comes to winning over future software engineers—especially those looking to develop with frameworks that don't play easily with Windows such as Ruby on Rails.
"
https://www.upguard.com/blog/microsoft-may-have-just-stolen-the-future-from-apple


Doubtful. Windows is dying and these moves by Microsoft reek of desperation. Right now, the consumer space is where it is at and Microsoft is completely out of it. What has most of the executives for Microsoft up at night is the fact that the new generations are growing up on Apple and Google technology. These folks will be the next CEO and CIOs. Microsoft may already be irrelevant and don't know it yet. They are becoming IBM.
 
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Blackforge

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Mar 8, 2008
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My understanding is that all of these Ubuntu binaries have to run on their own file system, entirely separate from the Windows file system.

It seems to me that something like Cygwin or a VM offer better interoperability between Ubuntu binaries and Windows binaries.

I haven't actually tried it yet since it's still in beta, but I'll probably look into it once it's out of beta.

That's incorrect, the Ubuntu environment has full access to the file system. It is automounted under "/mnt".

Here are some pretty good overviews of what they've done and what you can do at the moment: https://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2016/03/30/run-bash-on-ubuntu-on-windows/
https://insights.ubuntu.com/2016/03...-the-ubuntu-userspace-for-windows-developers/

This is "native" Ubuntu binaries running directly on Windows. The subsystem that Microsoft built lets this happen. It's currently geared toward developers. So unlike Cygwin, it requires no recompile to run.
 
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Three141

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Jan 1, 2016
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I thought Linkedin was making a loss?
Why would Microsoft buy them, they know they are a hated company and fools will leave Linkedin just for the fact big M bought it.

As a fan it raises eye brows especially when they have pretty much said they are not going aggresive with electric cars and just want to sell software.

I don't get it, they tried this with phones, computers and gaming consoles with the end result being the same it's just better if they make their own.

Aaarrrrggghhhh
 
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